Classical Music Goes Clubbing

Classical music is making a comeback, and I personally am very happy about that. Usually, classical concerts are thought to be stuffy and for the old and elderly. Fortunately, there are people around my age (20’s & 30’s) that have continued to find beauty in one of the oldest forms of music in history. Thankfully, some concert promoters have recognized the benefit of presenting classical music in a nightclub setting. Mixing the new with the old. Brilliant. The Universal label established Yellow Lounge in Berlin eight years ago and did so again in the U.K. last year. These events happen on a semi-regular basis, usually one to two times per month, and feature superstars within the classical industry such as Scottish violinist Nicola Benedetti and harpist Catrin Finch. And the frosting on the cake?? The ticket price is only $16! Other infusions of modern day music such as DJs and video installations add a bit of interaction to the whole experience. By keeping the real quality of classical music, a new and young audience is able to get into a new genre of music the they wouldn’t have otherwise known where to start, mostly because classical music is an expensive business. Knowing about what is happening though ventures such as Yellow Lounge is refreshing. It reassures me that people my age and the generations to come will be able to experience a type of music that I find beautiful and beneficial to my life and that I would love to continue to pass onto listening ears to come, especially in a world that is focused on extremely digitized sounds.

The Queen Makes a $50 Million Deal with Pepsi

The Queen Makes a $50 Million Deal with Pepsi

The queen is making her mark. Beyonce and Pepsi have teamed up again for a $50 million, multi-year branding deal and creative partnership beginning in 2013. “According to Frank Cooper, PepsiCo’s global chief marketing officer, more collaborations with all levels of the songwriting process are in the works to make Pepsi an important, integrated part of the music ecosystem”. What is interesting about this partnership, in comparison to others I have written about, is that the company of a product (Pepsi) is relying on the artist (Miss Beyonce) for her reputation to build their business ventures. Cooper states, “Our goal is not the begin and end with Beyonce. It’s using Beyonce and partnering with her so we can highlight the other platforms that we’re building”. Cause let’s face it: Beyonce is on top of the world. Really, she doesn’t need too much help expanding her brand, gaining fans, and selling out tours worldwide. She’s a boss, and a self-proclaimed diva, which she defines as a “female version of a hustla” (Beyonce, “Diva”). Honestly, I think Pepsi benefits more from this partnership that Beyonce, but hey, $50 million is $50 million at the end of the day.

“Tik Tok”. Ke$ha’s on the Clock.

I don’t think any one would expect Ke$ha to be late to a party. She’s the kind of person who’s the first to arrive and the last to leave: she’s not about to miss any ounce of fun. The girl likes to have a wild time. But we can rest assured that now, she will never ever be late for anything. Introducing the latest Baby-G Brand Ambassador. Yes, the pop superstar has signed on to create two unique design styles for the popular and fashionable sports watch company. As the first worldwide female to design her very own Baby-G, Ke$ha is excited. It is interesting to see her as a businesses women when I am so used to her just being a crazy party animal, as she portrays her self to be. But partying doesn’t pay the bills and nowadays, simply recording music doesn’t cover all the costs of living. Ke$ha, like a number of other artists, has had to extend her brand into other ventures and her first one just happens to be Baby-G watches.

Mumford and Sons go COUNTRY!

Mumford and Sons go COUNTRY!

As I have stated before in previous posts, I am a huge country fan. I have been for a while and I won’t lie; It’s hard being in a place where other country lovers are far and few in between.  However, I am thankful for my iTunes and streaming companies to keep me in the loop of whats going on in the country world back in the states so I can be in the know of up and coming songs, what’s popular, and who is making an impact on the country market.  Interestingly enough, I would have never thought that the famous folk band that I am a huge fan of would have made it onto Billboard’s Country Airplay chart.  That’s right. Mumford & Sons debuted at number 58 on Billboard’s Country Airplay tally with their song “I Will Wait” from their latest album, Babel. At first, I thought to myself, how can this be?? I am so used to artists such as Carrie Underwood, Luke Byran, Miranda Lambert, and Blake Shelton to be the ones on these charts: not any folk bands… But if one really listens to M&S’s song, they can really detect the country format through their “banjo-infused stylings” that have drawn the curiosity of the country world.  Although it is not the conventional country song that one would think of, the song has crossed barriers and reached a new audience for M&S, which is only great for their growth of fans and revenues. According to WWKA PD J.R. Schumann, “The song just fits… If it had been done by Dierks Bentley or Zac Brown Band, it would already be a No. 1 country hit.”  I am interested to see if any of their other songs will appear on country music stations and if they will become more popular in this particular industry.  If they come to be a favorite amongst country listeners, this could be huge for their career.  

Classical Music and Wrestling. Yup.

Classical Music and Wrestling. Yup.

What do wresting, Tibetan singing bowls, and orchestral scoring have in common? Shaun El C. Leonardo’s performance entitled, The Arena. Leonardo, who is also a painter and sculptor, has been “deconstructing hyper-masucline stereotypes by engaging in red-blooded activities and survey pop culture hero paradigms.” In relation to the central themes of my blog posts, I would say that this is an interesting, new, and obscure connection of classic music forms exploring new platforms. According to the article of this author, Joel Luks, “Chances are that a concert goer with a penchant for the timbers of western classical music may never set foot inside a boxing ring to spectate wrestling, just as a fan of World Wrestling Entertainment may not seek out chamber music recitals as a weekend leisure activity.” And I would say that I have to agree with him. What an interesting concept: combining classical music with Greco-Roman brawls. At the same time, it’s interesting, and innovative. Although it may not be Leonardo’s main concern or purpose, but people who are fans of wrestling but may not listen to classical music are being introduced to a new genre and engaging in music in a new way. The same goes the other way: for people who listen to classical music but don’t necessarily watch wrestling. It’s an interesting concept and a way to attract a new audience on both ends, and when thought of lucratively, that most likely means more ca$h for both industries.

A New Digital Playground for Musicians

A New Digital Playground for Musicians

Music and technology. It is a combination that seems all too normal to us nowadays. Streaming, MP3, iPod/iPad/iPhone/iDon’tKnowWhatCouldBeNext. And from all of this development comes the idea of apps. Not just apps to simply promote an artist’s new single, album, video, or tour dates. No, no… that’s kid’s play. Developers are thinking more along the lines of combining the music of artists with interactive experiences such as karaoke playback, song animation, lyrics, essays, etc. Major label, EMI, is hoping to develop a number of partnerships with app developers as a new way to gain revenue. Björk is one of the first artists to have launched their app called, Biophilia, developed by The Echo Nest. According to iTunes, “Biophilia is an extraordinary and innovative multimedia exploration of music, nature and technology by the musician Björk. Comprising a suite of original music and interactive, educational artworks and musical artifacts, Biophilia is released as ten in-app experiences that are accessed as you fly through a three-dimensional galaxy that accompanies the album’s theme song Cosmogony. All of the album’s songs are available inside Biophilia as interactive experiences: Crystalline, Virus, Moon, Thunderbolt, Sacrifice, Mutual Core, Hollow, Solstice, and Dark Matter.” The features of this $12.99 app include:
• Three-dimentional galactic interface with the song “Cosmogony”
• Nine song apps available as in-app purchases (priced at $1.99)
• Music scores with karaoke playback
• Abstract song animation
• Lyrics
• Essays
• MIDI out to drive instruments
EMI is hoping to develop apps for other artists under their able including Gorillaz, Pet Shop Boys, Tinie Tempah, Professor Green and Eliza Doolittle, and The Verve.
One might think, though, why would anyone pay so much for an app and experience?? Personally, I don’t know if I am willing to whip out more than $30 all together if I were to buy the app place every in-app purchase for an artists… But then again, that is my mindset right now because music has become so inexpensive due to streaming and downloading. Really, this should be a reasonable and respectable price to buy not only music but also an experience, given that the life of an artist has become more of a life of a starving artist, really. For how much music enhances my life, I should really not have an issue with spending more than 1 cent per song…
Anyway, back to the story, the development of apps is a new and creative concept that aims to gain more revenue in a struggling industry. According to Echo Nest’s chief executive, Jim Lucchese, “There is far more than a wrapper for the audio — it’s an opportunity to become part of the overall music experience. Out business is premised on app developers being the architects of how we experience music going forward.” The concept is new, innovative, and so far for Björk, successful. A new way to experience music. A new way to make $$.

Just StageIt!!!

As the music industry is affected (like almost any other industry) by the recession, musicians are finding ways to make ends meet, since record sales and normal touring schedules do not seem to suffice in providing enough profit for artists any longer. Crowdfunding sites such as Kickstarter are common place in the industry. Digital streaming sites such as Rhapsody and Spotify are becoming the main ways that consumers receive their music and they hardly meet the requirements for a financial substitute for CDs. But something interesting is on the horizon. The idea of streaming concerts and performances… live. I introduce to you, StageIt, an online concert venue where performers can broadcast live and interactive experiences directly from a laptop. The service offers a unique fan experience in real time with the artists. For the fans, it provides a great opportunity to get to know their favorite performers, as well as interact with them by requesting songs, making comments and tipping them. Additionally, fans can meet other like-minded fans and make friends. Yay! For the performers, it’s a great situation. Essentially they are making $$ from their laptop as long as they have a proper web cam. They are able to tour every city from one location, which clearly cuts down on any travel, food, and lodging costs… pretty sweet!! The performers are able to communicate back with their fans in REAL TIME and it give them a tremendously valuable and intimate experience. StageIt is not just for big and well known performers such as Haley Reinhart, Kriss Allen, Tyler Hilton, Trey Songz, and Jake Owen (just to name a few who have already used the platform)… No, no. Averages Joes and Janes, like you and I can set up an account with StageIt and perform for whomever would care to tune in, whoever calls themselves our ‘biggest fans’ which for me would probably be my mom… and how would you, as an artist make money?? Glad you asked. You can either a) set a price for your concert, most likely a low one because really, how much are you going to be spending on producing this concert unless you have to go out and buy a new laptop? If that’s the case, then we’ve got another issue to deal with. b) have a free concert but have the option for TIPS which fans can give you while you perform. Or c) which equals a+b. Simple. Easy. AFFORDABLE. and a new concept, thought up by a couple of dudes who saw a niche in the market that needed to be filled, especially in this day and age when touring might not be as feasible for a band or artist, but you still have to pay the rent somehow!

I’ll have the #5… Track #5 that is.

I have been trying to focus my blog posts on the collaborations of artists with other companies or organizations that aren’t necessarily conventional music platforms. This week, I came across another such partnership but in a genre of music that I am personally a HUGE fan of.  A new phenomenon and trend is upon us: Country singers hitching onto the wagons of popular restaurant chains in order to blaze trails into the wild west and eventually to the ears of millions who dine within these fine establishments.  Recently, country musicians, both known and up and coming, have bee teaming up with restaurants such as Texas Roadhouse in order to better both brands.  The singers get recognition through commercials, songs, and promotions within the restaurants while the establishments get recognition through the publicity of the musicians on their tours, through their websites, and simply just with the brand of who they are as an artist.  Both are benefiting through exposure during this everlasting recession in the U.S. Even country legends such as Josh Turner and Darius Rucker are supported by Cracker Barrel and LongHorn Steakhouse, respectively.  Josh Turner, whose name in the country world makes girls swoon and guys wish that they could sing like him to make the girls swoon, sold ” ‘hundreds of thousands’ of CDs the first time he released an exclusive recording for the [Cracker Barrel] chain in 2007, says his manager, Ted Greene, owner of Modern Management in Nashville.” So, why such an obscure partnership?? According to Josh Turner’s manager, Ted Greene, having “these brick and mortar stores in 600 markets with your record at the front counter is huge”.  The more exposure, the more recognition.  The more recognition, the more ticket, CD, merchandise, Steak and Potatoes, “Kickers” margarita, chicken fried steak, etc. sales.  Makes sense, right?? In these constantly changing times, it is important to find the loops and holes in the lasso that provide opportunity. And I would say that is exactly what the country stars and their restaurant counterparts have discovered and are taking advantage of.

Green Day Embarks Onto New Territory!

The well known band that started in San Francisco in the 1990s is making a comeback. Green Day and their marketing team have developed a wonderful strategy for relaunching themselves incorporating the NFL, television network CBS, and the time consuming and addictive game of Angry Birds. Green Day is using these non-music affiliated platforms to launch their disc trio entitled “Uno” “Dos” and “Tre” respectively. For the NFL, Green Day was given the honor of having their songs be used at the beginning and during break times of televised games in the month of September 2012. CBS’s acclaimed show, CSI, used Green Day’s music for the first thirty minutes of its season opener, where no lines or words were used. Each scene was set to Green Day’s music from it’s first album “Uno”. CSI’s director for this episode believed that Green Day’s lyrics from this first album of the trilogy fit the scenes and story lines for this episode perfectly and that is why she decided to use their music for this creative endeavor. Last, but definitely not least, Green Day has their very own version of the crazily popular game, Angry Birds, where the entire game and all its levels is accompanied by Green Day music and even some of the animal characters are formatted after the three members of the band. All three ventures have added a large number to their fan base. Consumers who may have known the NFL, CSI, or Angry Birds but maybe did not listen the band before now most likely know who they are at least, if not actual fans now. Green Day has branched out of the confinements of the music industry by applying their works to somewhat unconventional industries. Yet, this plan was well thought out, and for lack of a better term, brilliant. Applause to their marketing team and for really thinking out of the box.

And in today’s forecast: Blue Velvet with a chance of silver lining…

As I continue to figure out exactly what I would like my blog entries to focus on during this semester, I figured I would write about a current musical icon that we inhabitants of Valencia (and probably the rest of the world) can’t seem to escape seeing on the billboard of every street: Miss Lana Del Rey. It’s quite interesting actually… she has been the topic of discussion in a number of classes here at Berklee Valencia. To see her face pop up on every billboard around the city… It’s almost as if her ears were burning.

Anyway, to explain why Lana’s ‘I don’t care about anything’/deer in headlights facial expressions are pasted all over town.

Recently, Miss Del Rey partnered with the famous clothing chain, H&M, to launch their new LA Noir line. Being a fan of H&M myself (as well as a big fan of Del Rey), I have shopped there a couple of times since being in Spain, and her vintage-esqe voice on her exclusively for H&M track “Blue Velvet” has filled my ears numerous times as I combed through racks and stacks to find articles of clothing that are particularly my taste… and maybe even resemble a bit of Lana’s image.

The discussions that we have had in class about Lana focus on her ultimate failure performance on SNL as she performed “Video Games”. Although she has laid low on the live performance scene since then, Del Rey hasn’t failed in producing and releasing (in my opinion) amazingly beautiful cinematographic and artistic music videos that perfectly reflect the dramatic, sad, emotional, and lovingly passionate music and lyrics that make Lana who she is. I would say her image and these videos, in addition to her album, have helped to keep her afloat.
And as the time has passed, I think she and her team have seen and evaluated the mistakes they made and are using H&M as a popular platform to bring her back to a better standing position in the music world.
It will be interesting to see how this campaign works for Del Rey’s career; whether it will help or harm it. Possibly, this could be the focus of my blog entries; observing the way major companies and brands can help to revive or improve the career and campaigns of artists: new, established, struggling, or come-back. I believe this partnership between Del Rey and H&M will truly be a test to see if her SNL dive was enough to completely ruin her forever or if you can truly come back strongly after such a huge mistake.

NOTE: I stumbled across this article this morning. Apparently Miss Lana performed at the release party of the Jaguar F-Type in Paris and seems to be putting her stamp on luxury vehicles now. You go girl…